The world renowned auctioneers Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo has announced their New York Auction of vintage and historically important timepieces. Named as GAME CHANGERS, this auction will take place on 10 Dec 2019. A major highlight of this event is the presence of two holy grails from Rolex: The Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master and The Jack Nicklaus Rolex Day-Date.
The Marlon Brando Rolex GMT-Master
Phillips’ flagship New York watch auction, GAME CHANGERS will offer what is undoubtedly the most important wristwatch formerly owned by Academy Award® winner Marlon Brando. An iconic Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675, this watch was worn by Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, released in August 1979.
With its absolutely superb provenance, it is the watch seen by millions on the wrist of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz – the character played by Brando – and long thought to have been missing. In addition to its role on the silver screen, the GMT-Master being offered at Phillips is made even more extraordinary by the never-before-seen engraving on the caseback, “M. Brando,” hand-engraved by Marlon Brando himself.
This watch remained in Brando’s possession until 1995, when he gifted it to his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer. The auction this December marks the watch’s first time ever being shown publicly and offered for sale since having been acquired by the legendary actor in the early 1970s.
Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is among the greatest accomplishments in cinematic history and Brando’s performance is amongst his most iconic. Brando played the role of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, a former Green Beret who, during the Vietnam War, went rogue running his own military unit in Cambodia. On Marlon Brando’s wrist, as seen in the film, was this exact Rolex GMT-Master, a reference 1675 manufactured in 1972, fitted on a black strap with its bezel missing.
In 1995, 20 years after the filming of Apocalypse Now, Brando gifted the watch to Petra following her graduation from Brown University in 1994, before she went to Law School at the University of Southern California. Brando handed Petra a hand-written letter in which he wrote that he was proud of her accomplishments, then gave her this GMT Master. In 2003, Petra gifted the watch to her husband, Russel, on their wedding night. He appreciated its significance and has cherished it ever since, having chosen to never wear it.
The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 is being offered as it was received by Petra, without a bezel and fitted on a rubber strap. The watch is exceptionally well preserved, retaining all bevels, curves, and sharp edges as delivered from the Rolex factory nearly five decades ago. The luminous hour markers and hands have aged beautifully to a gorgeous shade of beige, and the dial, hands, case, crystal, and crown are all original to the watch.
A portion of the sale proceeds will assist a charitable foundation established by Petra and Russel, which will provide financial support to children who are living through serious hardship due to abuse, neglect, poverty, or disability – causes which Petra believes would have been very important to her father.
The Jack Nicklaus Rolex Day-Date
Phillips also presents the cherished wristwatch of the greatest champion in the history of professional golf, Jack Nicklaus – also known as the Golden Bear. This Rolex Day‐Date Reference 1803 in yellow gold has graced the wrist of Mr. Nicklaus nearly every day since he received it as a gift from Rolex in 1967 and was present when he won 12 of his record 18 professional major championship titles – often photographed when Jack Nicklaus hoisted the championship trophy following his victories. The Day‐Date is Rolex’s most prestigious model and one of the world’s most famous watches.
Originally launched in 1956, the Day‐Date, with its famous “President” bracelet, was the first wristwatch to feature a date and fully spelled‐out day of the week indication on its dial. The sporty elegance of the Day‐ Date is appealing to a variety of consumers around the world, due to its versatility, robustness, and elegance, enduring for over six decades as one of the most popular and sought after Rolex models.
In 18-karat yellow gold and fitted with a stunning and extremely rare champagne‐ colored “pie‐pan”‐style dial, with tapered and faceted baton hour- markers reminiscent of golf tees. All of the sale proceeds will directly benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation when it is auctioned on 10 December 2019.
This particular Rolex’s history begins in the late 1960s. While attending the Canada Cup in Tokyo in 1966, Mr. Nicklaus was offered a watch of his choice during a Rolex cocktail event that he attended with golf icons Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. Mr. Player, who was sponsored by Rolex at the time, recommended that Mr. Nicklaus choose the gold Day‐Date on display. Having never previously owned a watch, Mr. Nicklaus decided to take his friend’s advice. Mr. Nicklaus received his golden Rolex Reference 1803 — aptly matching his famous moniker, Golden Bear — the following year in 1967, the same year he won his second U.S. Open and set the U.S.
Open scoring record at 275. Although he eventually acquired a number of watches throughout his lifetime, Mr. Nicklaus has revealed that this Rolex is the wristwatch that he wore daily and that barely left his wrist for 50 years.